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March 8, 2018

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: 5-0 vote for data centers

If built as planned within six years, the data centers would generate at least $31 million in new county tax revenue. That excludes millions more from levies on the equipment the buildings would house.
File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
“Everyone I spoke to is supporting the data center,” says Tina Younis, who owns a 22-acre cattle farm. “We need more businesses in our community.”
The property lies along Lucky Hill Road just northeast of Remington.
I look forward to seeing this come to completion as quickly as possible for many, many reasons, including the tax base.
— Supervisor Rick Gerhardt
Public Hearing
• Topic: Rezoning application for data center on 234 acres along Lucky Hill Road just northeast of Remington; application to amend cash proffer on Fox Haven subdivision at Route 28 and School House Road near Bealeton.

• When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 8.

• Agency: Fauquier board of supervisors.

• Action: Supervisors unanimously approved data center application and, by 4-1 vote, approved the Fox Haven cash proffer amendment application.

• Where: Warren Green Building, 10 Hotel St., Warrenton.

• Applicant: Alberta, Canada-based Point One Holdings Inc.

• Landowners: Remland LLC (Bill and Bob Springer of Fauquier) and VCA LLC of Alexandria.

• Proposed buildings: 6, plus an onsite substation to provide electricity to project.

• Under roof: 1.5 million to 1.8 million square feet square feet, with data center structures ranging from 240,000 to 310,000 square feet each.

• Estimated investment: $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion.

• Employment: 120 to 180 permanent, full-time jobs; 200 full-time equivalent construction jobs.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
As expected, Fauquier’s supervisors Thursday night green-lighted what they hope will rank as the county’s greatest economic development victory.

By a 5-0 vote, the county board approved Alberta, Canada-based Point One Holdings Inc.’s application to rezone 234 acres along Lucky Hill Road to construct up to six data centers totaling 1.5 million to 1.8 million square feet.

“I believe the end product is going to benefit us all,” said board Chairman Chris Butler, whose Lee District includes the Remington Technology Park site.

The project will “have a huge impact on our (tax) revenues,” he added. “If I’m still on this board in a few years, I think our budget discussion might get a little bit easier.”

“I look forward to seeing this come to completion as quickly as possible for many, many reasons, including the tax base,” Supervisor Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run) said.

Four people on Thursday night spoke during two public hearings on the data center project and a related application.

All supported one or the other proposal.

“Everyone I spoke to is supporting the data center,” said Tina Younis, who owns a 22-acre cattle farm. “We need more businesses in our community.”

She hopes the data center will give Remington a boost, creating jobs and the kind of economic activity that will help fill the town’s vacant Main Street storefronts with restaurants and shops.

Pointe One Holdings Development Vice President Colin Clish thanked the staff and the supervisors for accelerating the review process to allow the company to meet a potential user’s schedule.

Supervisor Butler hopes the county’s quick action on the project will help debunk the perception of Fauquier as business unfriendly.

Mr. Clish said his company in April expects to purchase the 234-acre site from Fauquier residents Bill and Bob Springer of Remland LLC and VCA LLC of Alexandria. 

If all goes according to plan, Pointe One hopes to begin work on the project by year’s end, Mr. Clish said.

The company, which expects to complete the planned data center buildings within five to seven years or sooner, put its investment at $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion.

> Documents at bottom of story

The structures, the mechanical systems to support them and site development improvements alone could generate almost $31 million in tax revenue for the county during the first six years, according Fauquier’s Economic Development Department and commissioner of revenue.

Equipment, including servers in the buildings, also could produce millions in taxes annually for Fauquier.

Point One believes the data center project could create up to 200 full-time equivalent construction jobs and 180 permanent, “highly skilled and well-paid, full-time jobs,” according to the developer.

The planning commission on Feb. 27 unanimously recommended approval of the data center application.

Subdivision cash proffer reduced

In a related matter, the supervisors Thursday also voted, 4-1, to amend the cash “proffer” tied to the undeveloped, 197-lot Fox Haven subdivision near Bealeton.

The Springers and their Alexandria-based partner own the Fox Haven property, which lies about a mile and a half north of the data center site.

They contend the proposed Remington Technology Park’s success depends on the supervisors’ reducing the $2.7 million Fox Haven proffers.

That cash proffer — $14,730 per dwelling — applies to new home lots created as a result of the property’s 2003 rezoning from rural to residential use. Proffers help offset the cost of public services demanded by new development through rezonings.

Under the revised Fox Haven proffer, the developer will pay Fauquier $14,730 per home. But, after the county issues occupancy permits “for a minimum of 200,000 square feet of data center space,” the cash proffer will drop to $3,072 per home.

That represents the amount Fauquier could expect to receive under Virginia’s new proffer law, which took effect on July 1, 2016.

Supervisor Trumbo voted against the proffer amendment.

“My problem here is we’re giving away proffer dollars,” he said. “Before the state changed the law, we were collecting nearly double” the Fox Haven amount per home “on any newly rezoned residential units. And, frankly, we weren’t covering our costs with that.”

Fauquier should continue to use tax abatement incentives to attract business to the county, Mr. Trumbo said.

“But, giving up proffers, frankly, when we’re right in the middle of a budget process — when we can’t find enough dollars to fund what we have right in front of us now — makes this a proposition that I just can’t support.”

The board Thursday night also:

• Agreed to seek approval from the Warrenton Town Council to rezone a one-acre county-owned property at 340 Hospital Drive from “Residential Office” to “Public/Semi-Public” zoning to allow an overnight addiction recover center. The Rappahannock Community Services Board operates a mental health clinic in the two-story, 7,800-square-foot building that stands there.

County Administrator Paul McCulla has talked with Dr. Norman Mauroner about Fauquier buying the physician’s 9,500-square-foot office building at 540 Hospital Drive to house RCSB’s mental health clinic.

Under that plan, Dr. Mauroner would move his family practice to another building. Fauquier and Warrenton-based PATH Foundation also would fund the purchase of Dr. Mauroner’s property, which for tax purposes the county values at $1.3 million.

That space would require relatively modest improvements to serve the metal health clinic, according to Mr. McCulla.

Should all of those pieces fall into place, Richmond-based McShin Foundation would seek county approval to operate an addiction recovery center in the vacated RCSB building.

Application documents filed with county:

Application SOJ RemTechPark 1stSub by Fauquier Now on Scribd

Application ConceptRenderings RemTechPark 1stSub by Fauquier Now on Scribd

Application ProfferStatement RemTechPark 1stSub by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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Jim Griffin · March 10, 2018 at 2:07 pm
Agreed that data centers are excellent for this community. Anticipate the work force attached will prove especially demanding of broadband infrastructure, as will the ancillary companies nearby that serve the outsourced IT and coding demands these data centers invite.
citizen observer · March 9, 2018 at 3:49 pm
Absolutely right RG! Now if we can only get the morons that have been bought out by housing developers, that are running and ruining Warrenton, to wake up to what really needs to be built instead of more stores and apartments.

Amazing these developers didn't even have to offer that they may include a movie theater or bowling alley in 7 years.
RGLJA · March 9, 2018 at 7:49 am
Good job by the supervisors. We need more businesses like this in the county; businesses who pay taxes but don't demand more services than their tax payments will cover. This is the polar opposite of a big housing development which puts massive demands on roads, schools, fire, police, resulting in a net loss to the county, and ultimately higher taxes on all of us. This new business will also add jobs nearby, and perhaps take a few more Fauquier residents off the commuter trail to DC every day. Great move by the supervisors to quickly approve this new business location in Fauquier County.
Wellitsthetruth · March 8, 2018 at 10:30 pm
About damn time
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